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Ephemeral climates: Plato's geographic myths and the phenomenological nature of climate and its changes

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Historical and cultural approaches to climate generally consider climate to be a stabilising concept between weather and culture. Different historical and cultural concepts of climate signify different ways of learning to live with the weather. However, anthropogenic climate change evidences the limit of this approach: instead of stabilising, climates ephemeralise together with the ways we have come to adapt to them. Changing climates require a concept of climate that captures how climates are experienced both as stable and ephemeral. To create such a concept, I engage in an exercise of counterfactual etymology, reconstructing the concept of climate that might have emerged from the Ancient Greek term hora as opposed to klima. Central to my re-creation of phenomenological climate are Plato's myths, through which I highlight the methodological kinship between myth and phenomenology. Drawing on a later dialogue, Philebus, I provide an ontological account of climates as both stable and ephemeral. I conclude by situating my approach to climate and its changes in recent work on the relationship between weather and climate, arguing for the necessity of phenomenological climate in order to make sense of what changes with climate change. My turn to Ancient Greek philosophy and its application to the phenomenology of climate and its changes sounds out a novel approach to research in historical geography.



44 Human Society, 4406 Human Geography, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5002 History and Philosophy Of Specific Fields, 13 Climate Action

Journal Title

Journal of Historical Geography

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Volume Title


Elsevier BV